Why Fido is Treated Like Furniture in a Divorce

Who gets the pets in a divorce?

As an Arizona family law attorney, following and facilitating adoption stories is part of the job. It’s even interesting when it involves a four-legged friend.

The story of BB Bear– the abused husky who was miraculously nursed back to health right here in Phoenix and then adopted out to a local family– captured national as well as international attention. The Phoenix community fell in love with the injured pup and followed his story with intense interest and great care was taken to see that his Phoenix adoption went smoothly.

So, you might be surprised to learn that if you are considering getting divorced in Arizona and have pets, the legal system treats your pets like property, not children – – even if you feed, bathe, love, and care for them like children. As such, they generally get divided up as other marital assets that came into a couple’s life after their marriage, just like furniture, cars, and other possessions.

Until such time as pet custody laws come along, there’s no “best interest of the pet” standard as exists in child custody cases.  However, in cases where there is a child/pet bond that should be preserved, the pet might end up with the parent who gets the most parenting time with the child.

Because pets are often loved like family members, who gets custody after the divorce is often a hotly-contested issue. Things like cars and couches are replaceable. Living and breathing “furry kids” are not. And sometimes, couples may agree on some type of shared custody and visitation, but in the absence of an agreement, the court will decide which partner gets Fido full-time.

If you are considering divorce in Arizona, whether you have pets or not, Cohen Family Law can help you. We will negotiate amicably –or vigorously litigate–to get you the most favorable divorce terms possible, so you can move forward with a happier and secure future. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Phoenix, we’ve been helping families in transition since 1982 in all aspects of family law.